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8 Swiss inventions that changed the world

Published: 31 January 2021

Most of you probably know the advertising slogan "Who invented it? In the following article, I will prove to you that there is more to this saying than meets the eye and that Switzerland is not only capable of tradition, but also of innovation.

In the following you will find the content of the video also in text form. More entertaining and richer in images is of course the video with English subtitles.


It's a well-known fact that the best ideas come to you over a glass of wine. A spilled glass of wine gave Swiss chemist Jacques Edwin Brandenberger the idea of developing a water-repellent film. When he saw the emptied grape juice on the tablecloth, he decided to invent a material that repels liquids and does not absorb them. His attempts to spray fabrics with water-repellent liquids failed. The textiles became stiff and unusable.

But when Brandenberger noticed how easily one of the transparent coatings came off the fabric, he decided to further explore the possibilities of this substance. He spent twelve years perfecting the composition and texture of the film and developing a machine to produce it. In 1908, he named the final product Cellophane, derived from cellulose and the French word diaphane, meaning transparent.

Cellophane found its purpose, however, not in protecting against wine stains, but as packaging of any kind. Especially in the storage of leftovers and after freshly stung tattoos, we encounter this miracle film again and again. Cellophane can be found today in practically every household.


I don't want to gloss over drugs here. But what would Woodstock, the whole hippie generation, the techno scene and numerous musicians be without this drug. Originally developed as a drug, LSD is one of the strongest hallucinogens known to date. LSD evokes a long-lasting effect even in small doses. What makes it special is that it has no dependence potential and no deaths from overdose are known. However, it was never marketed as a drug and is still illegal today.

The substance was developed by Swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann as a circulatory stimulant. After the hoped-for effect did not occur in animal experiments, Hofmann tested the substance on himself. During his self-experiment on April 19, 1943, he experienced the effect of LSD as both a sensory opener and a horror trip, riding his bicycle home from his laboratory in Basel completely drugged up. Even today, LSD devotees celebrate April 19 as "Bicycle Day.


Speaking of music, the electric guitar, the rock star's miracle instrument on stage, is also a Swiss idea. At least half of it. Adolph Rickenbacher and Georges Beauchamp together, in the 1930s, designed the first mass-produced electrically amplified guitar. Rickenbacher was born in Basel and was a Swiss citizen. Later, in the USA, he founded Rickenbacker, a company that is still very popular and well-liked by musicians today. A Swiss has thus decisively influenced rock music and countless open airs.


Whether pants, bags or jackets: The zipper is indispensable. Originally, the basic idea for the zipper came from America, but practical use was still a long way off. It was Martin Winterhalter from St. Gallen who further developed the precursor and helped it achieve a breakthrough.

He was contacted in 1923 for the purchase of the patent, which had already existed since 1851. Martin Winterhalter saw great potential for improvement in this patent and finally bought it from the American. In 1925, he developed the Riri zipper from the basic idea and brought it to serial production.

Riri is derived from the words groove and rib. The patent unfortunately expired in the middle of the 20th century, which led to a worldwide cheap production of zippers and put the company under a lot of pressure. However, the Riri company still exists, is now based in Ticino and produces zippers for international noble brands.

Velcro fastener

What is a fashion sin for many adults, is indispensable for many children and a good alternative to the complicated shoelace. But not only in shoes also in countless other places, the Velcro finds a good use.

Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral is said to have come up with the idea of Velcro in 1941 while on a hunting trip with his dog in the Jura Mountains. He discovered the fruits of the "great burdock" on his clothes and in his dog's fur and noticed how difficult they were to remove. Upon closer inspection, he discovered the tiny hooks that attached to fibers and hair. With the help of friends in the textile industry, he finally succeeded in developing the fastener with hooks and loops. However, it then took a full 10 years to perfect the reinvention.

He named the product Velcro®, a combination of the French words velours for velvet and crochet for hook, and applied for a patent in 1951. Although he touted Velcro as a "zipper without a zipper," it ultimately took NASA to convince the world of this innovation. In 1969, astronauts used Velcro® to secure items in the Apollo space capsule. Simply ingenious!

Processed cheese

It's only logical that Swiss people should have something with cheese. The invention of prefabricated cheese slices with a low melting point also made the classic cheeseburger and toast Hawaii possible for us in the first place.

Walter Gerber and Fritz Stettler had been trying for years to make loaf cheese last longer and to make it easier to ship overseas. In 1911, the two succeeded thanks to a special melting process. To make it, cheese is grated, mixed with melting salts and heated until it liquefies. Then the cheese mass is poured into molds and cooled until it solidifies again. The kitchen world was revolutionized once again. By the way, the name Gerber is not a coincidence, it is Walter Gerber of Gerber cheese, which today belongs to the Emmi Group.

World Wide Web

The Internet has probably changed the world more permanently than almost any other invention from the 20th century. Who invented it, however, is disputed. But the decisive cornerstone was laid on Lake Geneva in 1993.

CERN's laboratories are partly located on French and Swiss soil, and at the time they had a fundamental problem that bothered the British Tim Berners-Lee. The two countries had different network infrastructures, which made it difficult to exchange information. Tim Berners-Lee, then an employee at CERN, developed the basics of the World Wide Web and the HTML markup language, which is still used today for structuring most web pages.

The world's first website was CERN's It contained information on how the Web works. The original web server called "NeXT" is still there today. In 1993, CERN made it publicly available. The World Wide Web was born and the way we search, browse and share information changed rapidly.


What hardly anyone knows, the original form of the logic puzzle are the Latin squares and were developed in the 18th century by the Basel mathematician Leonhard Euler. Unlike Sudokus, however, they were not divided into blocks or sub-squares. The popular puzzle was further developed into its current form in the 1970s by the US American Howard Garns. But Sudoku had its breakthrough only in the mid-80s in Japan. It was thus a small world journey, from the emergence to the breakthrough, which found its origin in Switzerland. Nowadays, it is impossible to imagine newspapers and puzzle magazines without it.

Do you know any other Swiss inventions? Or do you have any wishes for future videos? Write it to me on YouTube in the comments. If you liked the video, I would be happy about a Like and a subscription.

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